Mr. Fox’s Foes

Mean Bean

With the announcement today that  Jason Reitman’s new film Up in the Air is being  moved up to Thanksgiving, that got us thinking about what films will be vying for an audience when Fantastic Mr. Fox opens in the U.S.

After the jump, a breakdown of some of the films opening around Mr. Fox, and how we think they might affect Mr. Fox‘s box-office prospects.

As we reported earlier, Fantastic Mr. Fox is set to open in limited release on November 13th, expanding to more cities on the 20th, and then getting a wide release on the 25th, the day before Thanksgiving. Will Fantastic Mr. Fox have it’s own real-life Boggis, Bunce and Bean? Let’s take a look.

November 6th

A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol
Director: Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forest GumpThe Polar Express)
Star: Jim Carrey
Audience Overlap: Children/Families. Christmas, Animated, 3-D, Jim Carrey. There’s very little chance that anything will be able to compete for the family dollar when this opens.
Chances of Weakening Mr. Fox: Moderate. Given that the film opens three weeks before Wes’ goes into wide release, the momentum will have probably slowed down considerably. Still, for families looking for movies during Thanksgiving, this could steal a few people away from Mr. Fox. If it performs as Zemeckis’ similar The Polar Express did, it could stick around and build an audience in the weeks following its release and draw in adults as well as children.

The Men Who Stare At Goats
The Men Who Stare at Goats
Director: Grant Heslov (none)
Stars: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges
Audience Overlap: Clooney fans.
Chances of Weakening Mr. Fox: Low. While George Clooney’s voice is a big part of the marketing of Mr. Fox, his participation will not be the driving force in getting audiences to see the film, so this earlier dose of Clooney will most likely not keep anyone away from Wes’ film.

November 13th

 Up in the Air
Up in the Air (This film has been moved to December 4th)
Director: Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Juno)
Stars: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga
Audience Overlap: Clooney fans/Anderson fans. While some derided Reitman’s previous film, Juno did bring a lot of Anderson fans looking for centered compositions and Kinks songs.
Chances of Weakening Mr. Fox: Moderate. This film will follow the same platform release as Mr. Fox, expanding on the 20th and going wide on the 25th. The Clooney factor should again not hurt Wes’ film, but it could draw some Anderson fans away.

November 20th

 Planet 51
Planet 51
Directors: Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad, Marcus Martinez (none)
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Jessical Biel.
Audience Overlap: Children/Families. Another animated film, this one about humans, get this, who invade an Alien planet! (Brilliant.)
Chances of Weakening Mr. Fox: Low. From the looks of it, the film is another cheap CGI kids film that will probably have limited appeal to adults and will most likely fade after the first weekend. With the Zemeckis film out and Wes’ film out, this might be a movie people take their kids to when everything else is sold out.

 The Twilight Saga: New Moon
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Director: Christ Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy, The Golden Compass)
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Teen Vampires.
Audience Overlap: Likely very little. The films have nothing in common, but given how popular the film will likely be, we hope some of that audience sees Mr. Fox.
Chances of Weakening Mr. Fox: Low. Twilight fans will likely mob the film the opening week, so it shouldn’t draw too many people away from Mr. Fox a week later. 

November 25th

Old Dogs
Old Dogs
Director: Walt Becker (Van Wilder, Wild Hogs)
Stars: John Travolta, Robin Williams.
Audience Overlap: Families. With Disney and director Walt Becker and star John Travolta, both of whom were involved in Wild Hogs, families will most likely and most unfortunately subject themselves to this film as they did with Wild Hogs.
Chances of Weakening Mr. Fox: Low. Again, any film that has the chance to take families away from Wes’ film has the chance to hurt the audience for Mr. Fox, but kids will probably not be that interested and for the families who choose to go to this, we say you can have ’em.

Nine (This film has moved to December 18th)
Director: Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha)
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz.
Audience Overlap: Arthouse crowd/Oscar fans.
Chances of Weakening Mr. Fox: Very low. This musical-adaptation of Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 might steal away adult audiences looking for something of substance. Casual Anderson fans may look for something where they won’t have to share a theater with kids.

The Road
The Road
Director: John Hillcoat (The Proposition)
Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron
Audience Overlap: Art house/Oscar: The prestige of Cormac McCarthy’s source novel, director John Hillcoat and star Viggo Mortensen will draw in art-oriented adults.
Chances of Weakening Mr. Fox: Very low. The flip-side of Nine, this post-apocalyptic thriller might also pull away adults, but the films should co-exist rather well.

Ninja Assassin
Ninja Assassin
Director: James McTeigue (V For Vendetta)
Stars: Rain, Naomie Harris
Audience Overlap: None. This film is aimed squarely at teenage boys.
Chances of Weakening Mr. Fox: None. These films will not exist within the same universe of any movie-goers mind.


…and then, no further competition until December 11th, when Disney’s animated The Princess and the Frog opens. If you look through that list, it seems like Fantastic Mr. Fox has a pretty good shot, but this list is predicated on the assumption that Fox will do what its supposed to do.

Just a note, we are interested in the box-office not because it has any bearing on the quality of the film, but because we’re interested in risky films with artistic merit, and the more successful Wes’ films are, the more opportunity him and directors like him will get a chance to make those risky, artistic films.

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